As soon as we (Mr. and Mrs. Texas Outside and our Austin daughter's family of three kids ranging from 7 to 13) entered through the gate and past the sign ("A Sporting Club Like No Other") for and drove through picturesque and pristine rolling treed terrain and past cascading waterfalls, several ponds, lush green fairways with white sand bunkers, and some of the Cottages on our way to the Big Easy Lodge we knew we were in for a special treat and "the ultimate outdoor sporting experience."
If you like deer hunting, winged shooting adventures, fishing for bass or redfish, testing your shooting skills with sporting clays, a unique golf experience, upscale lodging, and gourmet dining or just a get away for a weekend, then you'll love Big Easy Ranch! Situated on 1300 acres of beautiful country terrain that is superbly maintained and manicured, Big Easy Ranch is just outside of Columbus, Texas, about 70 miles north west of Houston, and the rolling terrain, waterfalls, stocked ponds and beautiful post oaks plus the peace and quiet make it easy to forget the hustle and bustle of city life.
Some of what we thought makes Big Easy ranch special, unique, and worth a stay included:
If you like hunting and shooting you'll love the options at Big Easy Ranch, some of which include:
One afternoon, our grandchildren and the parents went to the clay shooting stands to test their shooting skills on each of the 10 clay shooting stands. I made a bet with the older grandson who is 13 that if he hit clays on one third of his shots I would give him five bucks. That may have been the easiest five bucks he's ever made - he nailed about 90% of the targets. When he asked me if I wanted to give it a try, I politely declined (I would have definitely embarrassed myself) with some lame excuses - ear plugs hurt my ears, I forgot my glasses, I can't hold a beer and gun at the same time, my trigger finger has a paper cut, etc.
On property are game processing options and excellent facilities for housing any dogs being brought along for the hunt. The Kennels are on site allowing for easy collection at any time of the day. A new cottage, called Dogwood, was under construction during our visit and when completed your dog can enjoy his stay in your room with doggie doors leading to a fenced-in dog run.
If you like to fish, you'll love the fishing opportunities at Big Easy Ranch. You can walk out the back door of three of the cottages and cast your line in Trophy Bass Lake for some huge largemouth bass or the 5 acres Red Fish Lake which is fully stocked with redfish and hybrid stripers. A few months out of the year you can even fly fish for rainbow trout in the Rainbow Trout Pond. What makes fishing at Big Easy Ranch outstanding is that you have a choice to fish any of five fully stocked lakes to catch trophy large mouth bass, red fish, hybrid striped bass, bluegill, crappie in Crappie Lake or catfish in Catfish Lake. Redfish Lake has a fishing pier with a fish feeder as well a fantastic stone patio with some towering trees on the edge of the bank. Fishing gear and tackle is available for rent at the Lodge. While my wife and I sat on our cottage patio sipping a cold one we watched our grandsons catch and release several large fish within the first hour - I was tempted to go grab one of their poles and give it a try but they were having too much fun and I didn't want my beer to get warm. Truth is I can't compete with their fishing skills and I know that my first cast would probably land with the hook in my shoulder or I'd get so excited if I caught one I'd would most likely go head first into the lake.
Wow, we fell in love with the par three championship nine hole course at Big Easy Ranch - it made our list of the Best of the Best Courses in Texas and the Best 9 hole courses in Texas. It just doesn't get much better - pristine conditions, cascading waterfalls, lakes with tall water fountains, white sand bunkers, unique and fun holes, challenging green complexes, beautiful scenery, and peace and quiet. I was struggling during my two rounds which started from the back tees on the first round and progressed to the front tees on the second nine. I lost three balls in creeks and ponds and found several of the bunkers - I left with sand in every orifice, my hair, and pockets, enough to make a small sand box for my granddaughter. Read our review of Big Easy Golf Course to learn more.
Right after that round I stopped by Hal Sutton's Golf Academy to see if I could get a lesson from this legendary 14 time PGA winner and Ryder Cup Captain! Unfortunately, he had just left and the Academy was closed the next day. I did check out everything that the Academy has to offer from a team of professionals that use cutting edge technology to analyze and improve your stroke to club fitting equipment and one of the prettiest driving ranges that I've seen in Texas - rolling hills, white sand bunkers, trees and more. I was disappointed so I bought a logo shirt hoping that might help my game. Then I headed straight to the bar to help me forget how horribly I played an outstanding course. Can't wait to get back and try it again!
After a few drinks at the rustic copper bar in the Big Easy Ranch Lodge we sat down for a much anticipated gourmet meal from Executive Chef Adan Jauregui and Sous Chef Michael Emerson. Both are classically trained in French cuisine and uniquely express their passion for Louisiana and Texas fair through each dish. Their goal is to use farm to table fresh ingredients sourced from nearby farmers in Texas and Louisiana.
Everything that we ate at Camellia Grill was outstanding - flavorful, expertly prepared and presented, and cooked to perfection. The menu changes on a daily basis and includes a lot of local game. Some of what we devoured on our first dinner included: Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with a caper remoulade and jalapeno radish relish (to die for, I could have eaten three of these): slow roasted Chicken and Venison Andouille Sausage Gumbo with Louisiana Basmati Rice Pilaf; Maple Leaf Duck Breast with quick fire cabbage, wilted greens, foie gras morsels and lingonberry jus; and inch and a half tall double cut Berkshire Pork Chop with ancho chili jus (no question the best and most flavorful, tender, and perfectly cooked pork chop I've ever had!); 22 ounce 44 Farms Ribeye with a spicy poblano jus (melt in your mouth tender); crawfish mac and cheese; and to top it off, a delicious strawberry creme brulee with fresh berries. And, of course, during our meal we had to sample wine that paired with our dinner and tried a couple sips of the twenty different selections of whiskey and scotch from all over the world. No wonder I couldn't play golf very well the next day after all that good food and a few drinks.
I waddled back to my cabin stuffed to brim, fell into bed, and swore that I'd go on a diet tomorrow. Little did I know, we had an equally good meal the next day, which started with farm fresh eggs, house pork breakfast sausage, country potatoes hash, and multigrain toast and a delicious Belgium waffle with sweet cream, fresh berries, and Steens syrup. I'll go on a diet next week.
The Camellia Grill is within the stunning 12,000 foot Big Easy Lodge. The Lodge's large stone fireplace, rich dark wood flooring, huge wood beams and ceilings, and trophy animals decorating the walls set this Lodge apart any others that we've visited. On top of all that the spirited communal dining room provokes great conversation and camaraderie, the reception area has some cool logo clothing, and you can enjoy darts, poker table, pool, and shuffleboard. Plus there are two outdoor stone patios - one that's perfect for watching a sporting event and the other that's excellent for outdoor dining and watching the sunset over a lake with two water fountains - and a rock fire ring conversation pit overlooking the lake. All of that is hard to beat!
Lodging at Big Easy Ranch
As you might expect the lodging at Big Easy Ranch is impressive. We stayed in one of the Magnolia Cottages in a large room with two big comfortable double tall queen beds (I almost needed a ladder to get in my bed), rich wood flooring as well as a wood ceiling, coffee maker and large mini fridge (stocked with water and soft drinks), a huge double sink bath room with a large walk-in shower, a wood dresser with a small desk on each side with cool chairs, a large screen TV, and a comfy leather easy chair. Out our back door was a patio with comfortable outdoor furniture overlooked Redfish Lake and water fountains!
The Big Easy lodging "reflects the traditional rustic elegance of Texas ranches with a Louisiana twist." There are two other cottages each of which has 4 rooms with either a king with a whirlpool tub or two doubles and a magnificent lake view. For larger families or groups there is a luxurious five bedroom cabin. Cabin is an understatement, the 5 bedroom cabin that we checked out was upscale, richly appointed and home to a large living area, dining room, fully equipped kitchen, and 3 bathrooms!
One other thing that contributes to making Big Easy Ranch a perfect place for a hunting or fishing trip, a fun round of golf, a weekend or romantic getaway, a family or social reunion, or a corporate event is the staff and quality of service they provide. The staff at Big Easy Ranch is amazing and dedicated to exceeding your expectations and creating a memorable experience. They are country friendly, warm and outgoing, and a joy to be around as well as sincerely interested in ensuring you have a good time. And that includes everyone from the owner Billy Brown to Jason McCain in Operations, the event coordinators, the dog trainer, the bartenders, and the chefs, who come out to personally meet you and make sure that your meal was enjoyable!
Billy, congratulations, you exceeded your vision of creating a "convenient and luxurious sport club experience!" We can't wait to come back again!
If you're interested, Big Easy Ranch offers corporate and private family membership options - schedule a tour and check it out, you won't regret it! Non members are welcome but it requires a one night stay and two activities - golf, clay shooting, fishing, or hunting. Check out the Big Easy Ranch website to learn more. Have fun.
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